The French currently have the lowest obesity rate in comparison to other countries like the United States, and they intend to keep it that way. France is taking steps to attack obesity and heart disease by imposing a ban on free refills and sugary drinks in restaurants. The nation is especially hoping to decrease risk of obesity among its youth. Fast-food establishments will likely be most affected by the new law.
France imposed a soda tax which began on January 1, 2012. Other countries in Europe, like Denmark, currently have a soda tax in place. The tax generated approximately $156 million for the French government. It also lowered the general consumption of soda and sugary drinks, which of course sparked outcry from companies like Coca-Cola who vehemently opposed the tax.
Still, France insisted on it and have now raised the bar even higher by making the offer of free soda refills against the law. The purpose is to reduce risk of heart disease and obesity as they are often silent killers. Childhood obesity has been called, “one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century,” according to a Harvard public health study.
Obesity is most harmful to children due to the fact that the odds are substantially higher for them to remain overweight as adults. There is an even greater risk the child will grow to suffer from heart disease or diabetes as an adult. As an obese child, they can have medical issues with their heart and lungs, muscles and bones, not to mention the emotional and psychological toll being overweight can take on a child.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of childhood obesity in the United States has “more than tripled since the 1970’s.” They go on to state that one in five children between the ages of 6 and 19 are obese. Children stand to benefit from a stop of free refills more than anyone else. The soda dispensers are interactive, quick, and easy for kids to use again and again.
France has taken bold actions to help stop the spread of obesity and related disease, and they are not the only ones. Here in the United States, Philadelphia is the first major city to impose a soda tax, and the locals were not happy about it. However, they are hopeful the benefits will outweigh the public outcry against it. The World Health Organization believes that a soda tax will “result in proportional reductions in consumption.”
Soda manufacturers are not happy about the tax, but estimate they will in turn raise their retail prices to offset their losses in purchasing. While deciding whether or not to order the meal that comes with the higher priced cup of soda, consumers may pass and choose a bottle of water instead.
Do you agree with a soda tax here in the United States? What about a ban on free refills at your local fast food restaurant? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter: @lcarterwriter.